Linda Maye Adams

Cheerleaders of the Writing Group Think


A lot of writers don’t think. That’s partially because writing has a huge learning curve and the internet teaches us that everything can be faster. So everyone looks for shortcuts, for the things to make it easier.

Sometimes it isn’t going to be easier.

I’m still trying to get setting into my stories (a problem that has cropped up yet again in my short story workshop). It’s not as easy as adding what a place looks like.

Anne Allen talks about the complainers who get offended at the most ridiculous things. Probably because they like to complain.

But there are also what I call the “cheerleaders.” They come out of the group think, or the Writing Collective. Important Writer posts a how-to topic on something. Everyone jumps in and exclaims, “This is just what I was looking for!” They all fall over themselves agreeing.

I cringe every time I see one of these because it makes it seem like writing is a checklist. If you do X, Y, and Z magic will happen.

Get rid of adverbs and your story will be publishable. Check.

Outline your story and you will have a publishable story. Check.

And it goes on, always with that second part. The problem, of course, is that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. Worse is that if you disagree for legitimate reasons, you often get jumped on. On one of those cheerleading blogs, I was told in not so many words that it worked for everyone so the problem must be me (it was an outlining vs. pantser issue and she was a “everyone has to outline” writer).

Granted, I’m particularly sensitive, because it’s hard when you’re not outliner. I would look at all this stuff that was being put out — often with great authority — and it wouldn’t work for me. But according to the Writing Collective, the problem was that I “wasn’t doing it right” or it was just me. The problem was never the advice because everyone was praising it.

The worst thing for writers is the group think. It makes us think we’re not doing it right when it may just the right thing for us.

5 Comments

  1. Pearl R. Meaker

    That’s why I rarely read any “how to” blogs or articles. I’d end up losing my own style and voice every time.

    Like

    • It is really hard not to be influenced. That’s one of the reasons I stopped looking at writing sites. Way too many people think their process is a writing technique.\

      Like

  2. livrancourt

    Like I said on Facebook, I love it when you comments on links I share, because you really do know what works for you, and you’re not afraid to put it out there. I hear what you’re saying about the Writing Collective, and while I guess I can be accused of supporting the status quo, I pretty much only share techniques that I’ve tried and that work for me. I like an outline (which I know gives you a rash…lol…) and I like a little bit of space between the draft and the edits. But I’ve done it with other way, too. Live & learn, I guess…
    😉

    Like

    • Liv, one of the reasons I do put it out there is because it’s hard being a pantser, where things don’t work the way it does for the rest of the world. I wrecked story after story following what everyone said worked, and it was only when I stopped doing those things that I stopped wrecking stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I’d also like to add that what works for one story doesn’t work for another. I was a heavy outliner on my last book and evolved into a partial pantser for my WIP (had to–two stories developing side by side needed organic space to weave together.)

    Like

%d bloggers like this: